28 Dec 2007


...theatre is no more

yes siree
due to some expired lease you will not be able to go
watch a movie there anymore

Anyone who has been into this single screen 1000 seater hall will remember its strange design and seating arrangements. Designed by architect P.N. Mathur who taught at the School of Planning and Architecture, its large curved cinematographic screen made heroes (and villains) look bigger than they seemed.

How many times has one taken a bus to Sarojni Nagar bus terminal and then walked to the theatre for the show for this was one of the few halls which regularly showed "foreign films".
I went to watch Ben Hur with my dad and brother, sitting in the front row with Charlton Heston's biceps magnified many times over. Also i was introduced me to some to eclectic stuff like Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence which forced me to rethink my career as a dictator. I still remember Ryuichi Sakamoto's music that kept echoing in the half empty hall.

There was Nirulas' under the hall where i remember going after our school farewell. This was a long lunch where the boys irritated the hell out of other customers by singing loudly and getting into fights with the employees who were trying to throw us out. Thankfully i do not going out on a date to this outlet . This loss of memory i take to be a good sign since I must have made a complete ass of myself. (This was my Brando phase and none of the girls gave a fuck).

Then there were the eating joints with Russian signboards which served momos. You sat in the open or half covered restaurants discussing the film you just saw.

It is sad that this quirky architectural structure will be taken down. Somehow we never value our contemporary urban history till it is too late. Had this been any other place this would have been converted to a museum for cinema and visitors charged a bomb to enter. Now that's an idea for Delhi Tourism....

PS Does anyone remember the name of the video game that operated in the 80's in the basement of Chanakya?

Another write up on Chanakya by Pragya


Shyam said...

Fantasia - India's first ever video game parlour. Jeez! The stuff that one's brain still holds onto after all these years.
The Ben Hur was really something, we really had to turn our heads around quite a bit just to take the entire screen in. But even from the front row, we didn't manage to see the stupid red car supposedly in the background of the chariot race.

ifnotme said...

well i thought Fastasia was the name of the parlour in South Ex...

Shyam said...

No, no...
Fantasia was the one at Chanakya
Can't remember the name of the one at South Ex - will have to think of that one.

Jyothi Unniraman said...

I protest.Everyone is forgetting our trip to see Escape to Victory where someone stood up and clapped in the last scene to the utter embarrasement of her children.

S said...

Sorry Mom!
No one in that entire theatre would ever forget Escape to Victory - we were scarred for life!
Though there might have been a latent repression of the memory since I did not remember whether it was at Chanakya or Archana.
About the video game parlour in South Ex - Was it Knockout?
Darn my day is going to be ruined googling this.
p.s. Google has decided to log me in differently this time, well, whatever.

Swaranjit Gulati said...

the name takes me back to the early eighties when all roads lead to the legend of chanakya i hate this wicked lady sheila dixit who could not change the mindset of the babus in NDMC